Business Immigration from the UK to the USA

Political headwinds have left entrepreneurs and business owners looking for more effective ways to trade. Namely, moving to the source and setting up a business in America.

The United Kingdom is America’s seventh largest trading partner with imports from the UK totalling $125 billion and exports to the UK exceeding $147 billion in 2019.

While bilateral trade grew to an all time high before the pandemic, Trump administration policies have been making things harder for certain sectors. A trade dispute with the European Union over subsidies to Airbus resulted in tariffs being imposed on a number of British products. The Scotch whisky industry, for example, was hit by a 25% tariff on its exports to the US market.

Things should start changing as a result of Brexit and the inauguration of President Biden, but there has not yet been any hurry to remove these tariffs on the US side. Moreover, continued uncertainty around the future of trade and globalization has left many business leaders asking how they can do things differently to hedge against future instability.

As a result, we have seen an increase in the number of people coming to our firm to discuss business immigration options. Not just from Great Britain, but from across the European Union – from Germany, France, the Netherlands and beyond.

There is increased interest in business expansion to the United States, as well as with people wishing to set-up new enterprises. The good news is that, being a land of commerce, the U.S. has multiple options for just such people.

The L-1 Intracompany Transfer Visa

The L-1A Visa allows a manager or executive level employee to move from the British office to the US office of the same company. More than 10,000 L-1 visas were issued to Brits in 2010. Many of them working at large multinationals and moving between established offices.

Yet, the L-1 can also be used to set-up and grow a new office in America. Businesses who do not yet have a presence in America can set one up and then transfer a senior-level employee to manage the business on an L-1 visa. D&A’s lawyers can take care of the company formation as well as the immigration work.

The L-1 is time limited, non-immigrant visa. British people are granted an initial visa of up to a maximum of 60 months (five years). New office L-1s are granted for a much shorter period so the authorities can monitor the progress for the business. Yet, these visas can be renewed – up to a maximum of seven years for an L-1A visa. There is also an L-1B route for people in the company with “specialized knowledge”. This is limited to a maximum of five years. To remain in the United States for longer, an L-1 visa beneficiary must switch to a different visa. The EB-1C and EB-3 visas offer permanent residency and fit well with the L-1 visa.

Click here to visit our UK L-1 Visa Page

E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

The E-2 Visa allows a person to move to the United States to operate a business. To qualify for the E-2 visa, a person must be a citizen of a country that holds a relevant treaty with the United States. The United Kingdom holds the oldest such treaty, dating back more than 200 years.

Click here to visit our UK E-2 Visa webpage

Eligibility is determined by citizenship, so if you were born outside the UK and subsequently became a British citizen, you would still eligible. This contrasts favorably with U.S. family-based and employment-based immigrant visa categories, where eligibility is determined by your country of birth.

There is no stipulated investment amount, but it must be credible to support the business plan. Generally speaking, it should be upwards of around $100,000.

Unlike the L-1, the E-2 visa can be renewed indefinitely provided the underlying business continues to trade and meets its targets. The maximum length of time an E-2 visa can be issued for is five years, at which point a renewal is required.

Family of both L-1 and E-2 visa holders can move from the UK to the US with the primary applicant. That includes a spouse and any children under the age of 21. Spouses can apply to work in the United States and often clients arrange their E-2 visa around the spouse’s career ambitions.

Visit our UK E2 Visa Center

EB-5 Visa

To have true freedom to work in the United States (and indeed study or retire), permanent residency is the best course of action. One of the fastest routes to a Green Card for UK nationals is the EB-5 Investor Visa. It offers a quick path to a Green Card for a $900,000 investment. This is cheaper than the UK’s own investor visa program, which starts from £2 million and increases in value if you wish to reduce the time period before your wish to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

The number of EB-5 visas available to each country each year is just over 700. The United Kingdom is not close to using up its quota, so there is no oversubscription or waiting list for UK EB-5. However, your EB-5 quota depends upon your country of birth. So, for example, an Indian-born British citizen would count under India’s quota. Given India’s population size and the popularity of the United States as a destination, India is often close to its annual cap.

Davies & Associates is one of the most well established EB-5 law firms in India. We have helped many Indian families successfully apply for their EB-5 visas and have been consistently quoted on the subject in the Indian media. Our Russian speaking lawyers and paralegals are also well placed to help the Russian community in the UK with their US immigration goals.

UK Solutions for Americans

Trade cuts both ways and Americans are inevitably also interested in UK visas. The United Kingdom is still gearing up its post-Brexit immigration system, but there are plenty of opportunities for American business owners and entrepreneurs. There is a UK intracompany transfer visa, which is similar to the L-1 Visa. There is a Sole Representative Visa, which has some similarities to the new office type of L-1 visa. The UK also has a start-up and innovator visas designed to attract innovative, scalable and viable technologies to the United Kingdom.

Davies & Associates is uniquely placed to help Brits looking to move to America and vice versa. Our chairman and founder is a Brit who migrated to America many years ago. Our core teams sit in New York, Chicago and London. Contact us today to discuss your specific circumstances.


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


India’s Economy Predicted to be Fastest Growing in World in 2021: Options for Expanding Your Business Overseas


The Indian economy is forecast to be the fastest growing in the world this year. According to a report by Global Data the Indian economy is predicted to grow by 9.7% as its vaccination program gets underway.

As India’s economy recovers and grows, its business owners and entrepreneurs are once again eyeing global growth. At Davies & Associates we are seeing an uptick in demand for US and UK business and investors visas, as well as some interest in new markets like Vietnam and Italy.


L-1 Visa: Expanding a Business to the United States

Our Indian clients have continued to want to expand their businesses to the United States throughout the pandemic. Travel restrictions and an immigration suspension have inevitably slowed things down, but with a vaccine and a new Biden administration, things are starting to open up.

The main visa for expanding a business to the U.S. is the L-1 Visa, which allows a manager, executive or specialized-knowledge employee to move to the U.S. to oversee the establishment of the new office. With its teams of corporate and immigration lawyers, Davies & Associates helps its clients establish the U.S. entity as well as conducting all the necessary visa work.

The L-1 is a time limited visa restricted to a maximum of seven years, so L-1 visa holders need to then return home or transition to another visa. There is a possibility of obtaining a green card under the EB1C Visa, provided the client is able to demonstrate that there was no immigrant intent at the time of applying for the L-1 Visa.


E-2 Visa: Starting a Business in the United States

The other key solution for setting up a business in the United States is the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. We have been helping an increasing number of Indians with this visa, despite it not been a typical route to America. In fact, we were one of the first law firms to obtain an E-2 Visa for clients from. This is because Indians are not directly eligible for the E-2 Visa because India does not hold a relevant treaty with the United States. Our Indian clients need to first become a citizen of an E-2 Treaty Country. Typically they opt for Grenada in the West Indies.

The E-2 Visa allows a person to move to the US with their family to invest in and run a business. The investment required needs to be appropriate to the business plan and usually upwards of $100,000. The visa can be renewed as long as the business continues to operate and spouses can apply to work outside the business.

The Grenada Citizenship by Investment application is quick and relatively cost effective. It takes just a few months and the applicant does not need to appear in person. The price starts from $150,000 for a donation to the national fund or $220,000 for an investment in real estate. Grenada has continued to process applications throughout the pandemic.


EB-5 Investor Visa

India was the largest market in the world for the U.S. EB-5 Investor Visa in 2019. That was before the investment requirement increased from $500,000 to $900,000 in November of that year to account for inflation that had not been applied since the program started in the 1990s.

The sticker shock of the price rise combined with Covid-19 dampened demand for EB-5 in 2020, but demand is on the rise again. It is good timing. Indians are limited to remitting a maximum of $250,000 each financial year – which will reset on April 1. This means that half the funds for and EB-5 investment can be remitted at the end of March and the remainder at the end of April. This should be done in a legally compliant way and we urge you to discuss this with our team.

Congress will debate the future of EB-5 at the end of June. The industry is hoping for long term reauthorization that will provide a clear steer to applicants. The changes could well be positive, but investors who wish to proceed with the certainty of the current regulations ought to consider applying before then.


UK Immigration Options

The UK has emerged from Brexit and is starting to look to Asia and to the Commonwealth. India ticks both boxes, and the UK remains a popular destination for our Indian clients. Entrepreneurs have the option of moving to the UK as the Sole Representative of their company, by transferring to the UK office of the business they work for, or by applying for a Start-up or Innovator Visa. The UK also offers residency by investment, albeit for considerably more than the U.S. with a starting price of £2 million.


Italian Immigration Options

Italy still has some way to go to be as popular with our Indian clients as the U.S. or the U.K., but people are nevertheless showing increasing interest in the country. Our recent expert webinar on One Euro Homes proved particular popular, and people have been intrigued by the Elective Residency Visa. This offers Italian residency to anyone who can prove they have at least €32,000 a year from income outside Italy to support themselves. Italy offers a residency-by-investment visa which is much cheaper than the U.S. or the U.K. The government recently reduced the price as a result of Covid, and investment now starts from €250,000.


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Immigration Outlook for 2021

Happy New Year from the entire team at Davies & Associates. With a global vaccination program underway, 2021 looks set to bring a welcome return to something closer to normality.

Despite the difficult circumstances, we were delighted to move so many families and businesses around the world in 2020, and we look forward to serving many more in the coming year.

Best wishes,
Mark I. Davies Esq.
Global Chairman, Davies & Associates



United States Immigration

Much of how immigration policy plays out during Biden’s first two years in office will depend on which party ends up in control of the Senate after a run-off election in Georgia today, January 5. Then tomorrow, January 6, Congress is required to sign off on the election results in what will be President Trump’s last opportunity to contest them ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. The political theater may calm down in late January, but questions will remain about how Biden will approach immigration policy as he attempts to repair the nation’s finances after Covid-19.

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program in 2021

The EB-5 Investor Visa brings investment and jobs to the United States. It offers Green Cards for a qualifying family group in exchange for a minimum $900,000 investment that creates ten jobs. It is for this reason that the EB-5 Program was deliberately not suspended by President Trump in 2020. The program has enjoyed the support of politicians from both main political parties and showcases how the immigration system can be a net benefit to the economy and employment.

The EB-5 program will find itself on the agenda of Congress this year as it faces reauthorization in June and as a bipartisan reform bill gains ground. While this could have a positive impact, some investors may wish to act in the first half of the year to lock in their investments with the surety of the current regulations. 

Read More

E-2 Treaty Investor Visa in 2021

The E-2 Treaty Investor is governed by treaties with sovereign countries, meaning it is more insulated from political changes than other types of visa. In fact, the oldest treaty (with the United Kingdom) was signed more than 200 years ago. The E-2 visa allows a person to move with their families for the purpose of investing in and running a business in the United States. It brings investment to the U.S. and creates jobs for U.S. workers. It was not covered by the Presidential Proclamation which banned the issuance of certain visas last year. 

Read Why You Should Apply for an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa in 2021 in Silicon India magazine, by Verdie Atienza, the Senior Immigration Attorney in charge of our E-2 and L-1 Visa Practice.

Read More

L-1 Intracompany Transfer Visa in 2021

The issuance of L-1 Visas was suspended by President Trump last year. The President just extended the ban on L-1 (as well as H-1B visas) through to March 31, 2021. This means Joe Biden will need take the decision on whether to immediately roll back on President Trump’s policy on the L-1 category or let it lapse in three months time. Increasingly our firm is helping business owners make use of the L-1 visa to be allowed to move to America to set up a new office and oversee the expansion of their businesses. Despite the ban, our clients have been using the time to prepare an application for when the ban is lifted. 

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National Interest Exception

The U.S. border has been closed to the citizens of select countries with high rates of Covid-19. However, it is possible for L-1 and E-2 visa holders to apply for special permission to travel to the United States if they can make the case that this is in the national interest. Our firm obtained multiple National Interest Exceptions to allow our L-1 and E-2 clients to travel to the U.S. in 2020. Please contact us if this affects you. 

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Italian Immigration

Our Italian business grew rapidly in 2020, in spite of challenging circumstances. This year is set to be even stronger as the Italian government looks to the immigration system to help rebuild the economy. To that end, it cut the cost of the Italian residency-by-investment visa in half for certain types of investment. It has also fully reopened the Elective Residency Visa after some consulates stopped accepting applications because of Covid. Elective Residency, which is our most popular Italian visa, allows a person to obtain Italian residency if they can prove a regular income of at least €32,000 / year among other conditions. 

Our firm also helps clients with all matters relating to Italian tax, citizenship and property. At the end of 2020 we hosted a webinar on the famous One-Euro Homes project featuring an expert panel covering all aspects of the program – including someone who has been through the process.

Read more

Click Here to Watch our One Euro Homes Webinar from December 2020

United Kingdom Immigration

The United Kingdom officially left the European Union at the end of 2020 and is gearing up its new points-based immigration system. It also recently launched a Global Talent Visa to attract future leaders in digital technology, academia, and the arts. The U.K. investor visa, skilled-worker visa, and start-up visa are all still available. Some of the details of the new system are yet to be determined, so we advise you to set up a consultation with our UK team.

Read more

Grenada Citizenship by Investment

Demand for the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Programme grew during 2020 as more people sought dual citizenship amid the uncertainty of Covid-19. Grenada offers citizenship within a matter of months in exchange for an investment in Real Estate starting from $220,000 or a donation starting from $150,000. Grenada is an E-2 Treaty Country, which means people from a non E-2 Treaty Country (e.g. India, South Africa, Vietnam, Russia & China) can become eligible for the U.S. E-2 Treaty Investor Visa after obtaining citizenship of Grenada.

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Start a Business Anywhere in the World in 2021

Davies & Associates has helped hundreds of clients move their existing businesses overseas or start new ones around the world. The tasks of setting up an overseas office and of applying for the necessary visas are intricately linked. Our teams of corporate lawyers and immigration lawyers work closely together to ensure the business is set-up in a way that complies with all local immigration regulations. We then remain by our clients side, providing all the necessary ongoing corporate and immigration support as they grow and thrive in their new home.

Read more

 

Vương quốc Anh và Việt Nam ký biên bản kết thúc phiên đàm phán Hiệp định Thương mại Tự do: Khám phá các lựa chọn nhập cư vào Vương quốc Anh

Chiều ngày 11/12, lễ ký kết Biên bản Kết thúc đàm phán Hiệp định Thương mại Tự do (FTA) Việt Nam-Vương quốc Anh (UKVFTA) chính thức diễn ra tại Hà Nội.

By Simon Ngyuen

Theo số liệu của Tổng cục Hải quan, năm 2019, tổng kim ngạch xuất nhập khẩu hai nước đạt 6,6 tỷ USD, trong đó xuất khẩu đạt 5,8 tỷ USD và nhập khẩu đạt 857 triệu USD. Tuy nhiên, khi Anh rời EU, các ưu đãi mang lại từ Hiệp định thương mại tự do Việt Nam-EU (EVFTA) sẽ không được áp dụng tại thị trường Anh. Bởi vậy, việc ký kết một FTA song phương sẽ tạo điều kiện cho hoạt động cải cách, mở cửa thị trường, thuận lợi hóa thương mại ở hai quốc gia trên cơ sở kế thừa các kết quả đàm phán tương đối tích cực ở EVFTA, tránh gián đoạn các hoạt động thương mại do hệ quả mang lại của Brexit.Sau 6 phiên làm việc chính thức và nhiều phiên làm việc kỹ thuật, 2 bên đã chính thức đi đến ký kết biên bản kết thúc đàm phán Hiệp định thương mại tư do Việt Nam-Vương quốc Anh.Bộ trưởng Bộ Công Thương Trần Tuấn Anh khẳng định, đây là bước quan trọng để 2 nước sớm đi đến ký kết chính thức Hiệp định này trong thời gian tới.Hiệp định song phương UKVFTA giữ nguyên các lợi ích trong quan hệ thương mại hiện tại giữa Vương quốc Anh và Việt Nam thông qua Hiệp định Thương mại EVFTA, đồng thời có những điều chỉnh để phù hợp với cả 2 bên. Hiệp định UKVFTA được kỳ vọng sẽ tiếp nối động lực thúc đẩy quan hệ thương mại, đầu tư của hai bên trong những năm tới.Những cơ hội và lợi ích lớn nhất tạo ra từ Hiệp định UKVFTA là thúc đẩy xuất khẩu các mặt hàng chủ lực của Việt Nam. Các ngành hàng xuất khẩu được hưởng lợi là thủy hải sản, gạo, dệt may, gỗ, rau quả, da giày… Theo đó 99% thuế xuất nhập khẩu giữa 2 nước sẽ được xóa bỏ sau khi kết thúc lộ trình cắt giảm thuế quan.Theo Bộ trưởng Thương mại quốc tế Anh Liz Truss, Vương quốc Anh và Việt Nam có chung cam kết chiến lược đối với thương mại toàn cầu và tự do hóa giao dịch vốn và đầu tư. Thỏa thiện UKFTA là một bước tiến quan trọng trong bối cảnh nước Anh sẽ chính thức xin gia nhập Hiệp định Đối tác Toàn diện và Tiến bộ xuyên Thái Bình Dương (CPTPP) vào đầu năm 2021.


Điều này cũng mở ra cơ hội cho nhiều doanh nghiệp Việt Nam muốn mở rộng thị thường và hoạt động kinh doanh tại Vương Quốc Anh thông qua các chương trình thị thực dành cho các doanh nhân, quản lý. Trong số đó, phải kể đến các lựa chọn đang là ưu tiên với quy trình giải quyết nhanh, chi phí thấp như:

1.    Sole-Representative Visa: Thị thực yêu cầu người nộp đơn thiết lập sự hiện diện thương mại đầu tiên của công ty tại Vương quốc Anh, bằng cách mở một chi nhánh hoặc công ty con đã đăng ký tại Vương quốc Anh

.2.    Start-up Visa: Một trong những loại thị thực được giới thiệu gần đây, thị thực này đã thay thế thị thực Doanh nhân (Entrepreneur) và tốt nghiệp (Graduated). Thị thực này rất phổ biến do người nộp đơn không yêu cầu bất kỳ khoản tiền nào trong giai đoạn nộp đơn. Thị thực này dành cho những cá nhân có đầu óc kinh doanh với mong muốn xây dựng một công ty theo ba tiêu chí chính là (i) ý tưởng kinh doanh sáng tạo, (ii) tính khả thi và (iii) có thể mở rộng

3.    Innovative Visa: Loại thị thực này nhằm vào những doanh nhân có kinh nghiệm hơn, những người đang muốn thành lập doanh nghiệp tại Vương quốc Anh với quỹ đầu tư tối thiểu 50.000 bảng Anh. Tương tự như thị thực khởi nghiệp, người nộp đơn phải được sự chứng thực từ cơ quan được chỉ định của Vương quốc Anh đối với ý tưởng kinh doanh.

Liên hệ ngay với Davies and Associates LLC để biết thêm thông tin chi tiết và chúng tôi có thể tư vấn lựa chọn phù hợp nhất cho dự định làm việc, sinh sống của bạn tại Vương quốc Anh.

Explore UK Immigration Options as Vietnam & UK sign Free Trade Agreement

On the afternoon of December 11, the signing ceremony of the Agreement on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Vietnam-UK (UKVFTA) officially took place in Hanoi.

According to the General Department of Customs, in 2019, the total import-export turnover of the two countries reached 6.6 billion USD, of which exports reached 5.8 billion USD and imports reached 857 million USD. However, when the UK leaves the EU, the incentives brought in from the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) will not be applied in the UK market. Therefore, the signing of a bilateral FTA will facilitate the reform, opening of markets and trade facilitation in the two countries on the basis of inheriting relatively positive negotiation results in EVFTA. and avoid disruptions in commercial activities as a result of Brexit.

After 6 official working sessions and many technical sessions, the two sides officially came to sign the conclusion of the negotiations on the Vietnam-UK Free Trade Agreement.

Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh affirmed that this is an important step for the two countries to soon come to the official signing of this Agreement in the coming time.

Bilateral Agreement UKVFTA retains the interests in the current trade relationship between the UK and Vietnam through the EVFTA Trade Agreement, and at the same time makes adjustments to suit both sides. The UKVFTA Agreement is expected to continue the driving force of the two sides’ trade and investment relations in the coming years.

The greatest opportunities and benefits created from the UKVFTA Agreement are to promote the export of Vietnam’s key products. The export sectors to benefit are seafood, rice, textiles, wood, vegetables, leather and shoes … Accordingly, 99% of import and export taxes between the two countries will be eliminated after the tax cut is completed. concerned.

According to British International Trade Minister Liz Truss, the UK and Vietnam share a shared strategic commitment to global trade and liberalization of capital transactions and investment. The UKFTA agreement is an important step in the context that the UK will officially apply to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in early 2021.

This also opens up opportunities for many Vietnamese businesses to expand their markets and do business in the UK through visa programs for entrepreneurs and managers. Among them, there are options that are priority with a fast, low-cost process such as:

  1. Sole-Representative Visa: The visa requires the applicant to establish the company’s first commercial presence in the UK, by opening a branch or subsidiary registered in the UK.
  2. Start-up Visa: One of the recently introduced visas, this visa has replaced the Entrepreneur (Entrepreneur) and Graduated (Graduated) visa. This visa is very popular because the applicant is not asking for any money during the application stage. This visa is for business-minded individuals wishing to build a company under three main criteria: (i) innovative business idea, (ii) feasibility and (iii) open wide
  3. Innovative Visa: This visa is aimed at more experienced entrepreneurs who are looking to start a business in the UK with a minimum investment fund of £ 50,000. Similar to a start-up visa, an applicant must obtain endorsement from a designated UK agency regarding the business idea.


Clients Wait Out the EB-5 Queue in the USA Using E-2 Visa

D&A Clients Wait Out the EB-5 Queue in the USA Using E-2 Visa

We are delighted to have received yet another E-2 Treaty Investor Visa approval today. This time it’s for a client who already has an approved EB-5 application, but is facing a wait before an EB-5 visa becomes available. In fact, she is part of a growing trend of people looking to the E-2 visa as a means of moving to the United States faster than EB-5 allows.

The EB-5 Visa is proving fantastically popular in some quarters – especially China and Vietnam where supply is often outpacing demand. As well as India, South Korea and Taiwan where demand is fast catching up with supply.

When demand exceeds supply, that country is subject to a waiting list for EB-5.

There are normally around 700 EB-5 visas available to each country per year. The quota does not take account of population size, which partially explains why demand is so high in certain countries.

Growing demand can also be explained by the fact that the EB-5 investor visa is offers permanent residency at a lower cost than other similar nations, for example the UK starts from £2 million and Italy, which was mostly more expensive until the Italian government reduced its investment amounts over the summer in response to Covid-19.

How long are the delays?

It is hard to calculate the exact length of the delay faced by each country because they are subject to so many moving parts. We explain the delays in more detail in our analyses of the visa bulletins.

Citizens of China are subject to extremely long, multi-year delays. For Vietnam the delay is shorter but still an inconvenience. And for India there is currently no delay, but there were delays as recently as this summer. Taiwan and South Korea have never faced delays, but they are heading in that direction.

Some people opt to wait out the delays in their home country, but others are keen to get to the United States sooner. That is where the E-2 visa comes in.

The E-2 Visa has no waiting list and processing times are very fast

The EB-5 country-quota depends upon a person’s country of birth rather than their current citizenship. For example, the client approved for E-2 today was born in mainland China but is currently an Australian citizen. That means that for EB-5 purposes our client is subject to the China quota – which has a long waiting list – rather than the Australian quota which has never come anywhere close to its annual cap.

Yet that Australian citizenship has come in handy when it comes to the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. Because, although there are no caps or quotas for E-2, eligibility for this visa is determined by your country of citizenship.

China does not hold and E-2 Treaty Country with the United States, so its citizens are ineligible. Australia, on the other hand, has a well-established treaty that makes its citizens eligible for the E-2 visa.

Essentially, you must be a citizen of an E-2 Treaty country in order to qualify for an E-2 visa. This means the country in which you hold citizenship must hold a relevant Treaty with the United States. Click here to find out if your country is on the list.

Becoming eligible for the E-2 Visa

If your country is not on the list then you can become eligible through a two-step process. First you need to obtain citizenship of an E-2 Treaty country, then you can apply for the E-2.

It sounds complicated, but in reality it is relatively simply. We have done this for a number of clients in the past. The whole process can take as little as nine months if everything runs smoothly.

Grenada and Turkey offer fast and cost-effective routes to citizenship that can provide a springboard to the E-2 Visa. Learn more about Grenada’s citizenship program here. Learn more about Turkey here.

Benefits of the E-2 Visa

So why have people bothered going to so much trouble? Well for one thing, Turkey and Grenada offer multiple benefits in their own right. But also because people get excited by the E-2 visa, which allows them to move to the United States for the purposes of owning and operating a business.

  • Investment requirements are relatively modest (no hard-and-fast rule, but usually starting from around $100,000).
  • You can start your own business or purchase a franchise
  • You can bring your spouse and children with you
  • Spouses can apply to work outside the business
  • You have freedom to travel to and from United States
  • There is no longer a requirement for a physical office space
  • The visa is renewable indefinitely – if the underlying business remains

E2 to EB-5

Unlike the EB-5 visa, the E-2 visa does not offer permanent residency. So if you close the underlying business, you would be required to leave the United States or find an alternative.

The E-2 Business Could Qualify for EB-5 if it Meets the Requirements

That is where the EB-5 comes in. There are two options for transitioning to EB-5 from E-2. Firstly, if your E-2 business has grown large enough, it may qualify as an EB-5 investment in its own right. The invested capital would need to be more than $900,000 if your business is situated in a targeted employment area ($1.8 million outside of these areas). It would also need to be able to sustain ten full-time employees.

Alternatively, you can invest in the EB-5 Regional Center program separately to your E-2 business. This removes the challenge of ensuring your business is consistently compliant with the EB-5 rules. While the Regional Center works to ensure compliance, you and your attorney should still be conducting due diligence on the Regional Center’s investment project to identify any risks to your Green Card and investment.

Case study

Our client established a New York-based company that sells well-designed, high quality, comfortable women’s clothing. It sells products online but the items will also be available in luxury department stores.  

Customers are able to order items directly from the Company’s website, Instagram, or mobile application. The Company uses engaging social media content, with a focus on building a brand through storytelling and it employs technology to create an immersive experience for clients through application of augmented reality (AR).

Our client was born in China but is currently an Australian citizen. She already has an approved EB-5 application (Form I-526), but faced a long wait for an EB-5 visa with all other Chinese-born applicants.

Chinese citizens are not eligible for the E-2 visa, but by holding Australian citizenship, she was eligible. This means the client was able to apply for an E-2 visa to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams in the United States.

Nevertheless, most of her funds came from China, which meant there were restrictions on the transfer of funds that required careful planning. Additionally, the closure of the US consulates in Melbourne delayed the interview and slowed the whole process by several months.

We wish her the best of luck in America.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Cyprus Ends Citizenship Program – What are the Alternatives?

Cyprus has announced it is closing its popular citizenship by investment program from next month, so what alternative options are available?

Under the Cyprus program, dual citizenship could be obtained within just six months in exchange for a €2 million investment on the island. Since Cyprus is a European Union member, Cypriot citizenship offered the opportunity to live and work in any one of the 27 EU member states (28 until Brexit).

Maltese Citizenship by Investment

The closure of the Cyprus program leaves Malta as the fastest route to European Union citizenship. The Maltese citizenship program requires a €650,000 donation, a €150,000 investment, as well as a commitment to reside in Malta and meet a threshold cost for the rent or purchase of a home.

EU Residency to Citizenship

The alternative European Union programs are more focused on residency by investment with the opportunity to progress to citizenship after a period of residency has been maintained. Bulgaria offers a fast transition from residency to citizenship, while the UK differs depending upon how much you invest, and for Italy it takes ten years. (More on this below)

Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program

There is a candidate for European Union membership that offers citizenship by investment for those willing to wait an undetermined period of time to become and EU citizen. Montenegro offers a time-limited citizenship by investment program that is running to the end of 2021. The Montenegro program requires a minimum €250,000 investment in Real Estate (more capital is required in economically developed parts of the country) as well as a €100,000 donation to the public coffers. Not only is Montenegro a candidate for EU membership, it is also a member of NATO.

Turkish Citizenship by Investment

Another nearby NATO member, Turkey, also offers an enticing citizenship by investment program. The Turkish program is cheaper than the Montenegro program in that it only requires a €250,000 investment in Real Estate to be maintained for three years or more. Alternatively, Turkish citizenship could be obtained by maintaining €500,000 in deposits with a Turkish bank for three years.

Access to the United States E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

One of the many advantages of Turkish citizenship is that it offers access to the sought-after United States E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. This visa allows a person to move to the US with their families for the purpose of running a business. While the primary applicant must run the business, the spouse can apply to work in the United States.

You must hold citizenship of an E-2 Treaty country. Check our list to see if your country is on there. Citizens of many countries, including India, China, Vietnam, South Africa, Russia, Nigeria are not eligible for the E-2 visa. Combining an E-2 application with citizenship by investment is relatively straightforward. Click here or contact us to learn more.

Grenada Citizenship by Investment

Another country that offers access to the US E-2 Treaty investor visa is Grenada in the Caribbean. Its citizenship program is even more cost effective than the Turkish program. Investors can choose between making a donation to the government of $150,000 or making an investment in Real Estate starting from $220,000. The Grenada program has fast processing times – it can take less than two months to obtain citizenship. Grenada has a strong passport with visa free access to the UK, the EU and the People’s Republic of China.

Comparison of Citizenship by Investment Programs

United Kingdom Residency by Investment

Back to Europe, and the alternative options are to obtain residency by investment as a pathway to citizenship over the medium term. The United Kingdom, for example, offers residency in exchange for a minimum £2 million donation. Higher investment amounts reduce the amount of time before you can obtain settled status, termed indefinite leave to remain. For £2 million the time period is five years; for £5 million that is reduced to three years; and for anything upward of £10 million it requires just two years before you can apply for settled status. Twelve months after obtaining indefinitely leave to remain, a person can apply for UK citizenship.

UK Investor Visa Options

Italian Residency by Investment

Italy offers something similar to the United Kingdom. Recently, in response to Covid-19, the Italian government reduced the investment requirement for its investor visa. Italian residency by investment can be obtained in one of the four ways listed below. The investor must maintain ten years of residency before they can apply to naturalize as an Italian citizen.

at least 250.000 Euros in an innovative start-up company incorporated in Italy; 

at least 500.000 Euros in equity instruments of companies incorporated and operating in Italy; 

at least 2 million Euros in Government Bonds issued by the Italian Republic

philanthropic donations of at least 1 million Euros, in the field of culture, education, immigration, scientific research, recovery of cultural assets and landscapes

Portugal Residency Permit

Portugal offers a residency permit in exchange for an eligible investment. The permit is granted for a two year period, but can be renewed in two year instalments. After five years, the permit holder can apply for permanent residence or citizenship.

Investment options include, real estate, bank deposits, government bonds, setting up a company, and more. For real estate, the minimum requirement is €350,000 for old houses and €500,000 for newer builds. That amount is reduced in areas of low population density.

Greece Residency Permit

Greece offers residency permits for a cost-effective €250,000 investment in real estate. The permit is granted for five years and can be continuously renewed provided the underlying property ownership is maintained. Lease and timeshare options may also qualify.

United States Investor Visa

The United States EB-5 program offers a Green Card in exchange for a $900,000 investment. The applicant, a spouse, and any children under the age of 21 can be covered by a single investment. A Green Card offers permanent residency in the United States and can subsequently be converted to citizenship, provided residency conditions are met.

The investment must create and sustain ten American jobs and must be made in a Targeted Employment Area (outside of these areas the investment required doubles to $1.8 million.) While you can make and manage the investment yourself, most applicants opt invest with “Regional Centers”.

These organizations aggregate investors into new commercial ventures usually involved in construction. These job-hungry projects help ensure compliance with the requirements of the EB-5 program. While the capital is at risk, careful due diligence of the project and Regional Center will mitigate that risk.

Conclusion

This is not an exhaustive list. Other countries like Spain, Ireland, St Kitts & Nevis, and Dominica all offer residency and citizenship by investment programs. The abrupt departure of the Cyprus from the industry does not end the dream of global mobility by investment. The best thing to do is to share your goals and budgets with an immigration attorney who can advise on the best option to suit you, your family, and your business.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


UK, Canada, Australia: Gateways to The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

UK, Canada, Australia: the other gateways to the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

While Grenada and Turkey understandably dominate the discussion around the E-2 Visa, other countries also offer a potential pathway to this desirable visa category.

To qualify for the sought-after E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, you must be a citizen of an E-2 Treaty Country. You can find out if your country holds an E-2 Treaty with the United States by checking this list. If your country is not on the list, you would first need to become a citizen of an E-2 Treaty country to qualify.

It sounds complicated, but in reality it can be quite straightforward. At Davies & Associates we have a lot of experience with helping clients through a two-stage process of becoming a citizen of an E-2 Treaty Country then applying for the E-2 visa.

Most of our clients have opted for Grenadian or Turkish Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs for the simple reason that these countries offer the fastest and most cost-effective routes to citizenship.

Indeed, you could even be living in the US on an E-2 visa within just nine month because processing times for both the CBI programmes and the E-2 visa are very fast. (Covid notwithstanding).

So if it is speed and price you are looking for, then please contact our team to discuss the Grenada and Turkey options. (It should be noted here that both Grenada and Turkey both offer fantastic commercial, educational, and other benefits in their own right. This has been the subject of several other blogs in this feed. Please contact us to discuss this in greater detail).

But for some of our clients, other factors are at play in influencing their motivations, this includes family, education or business interests.

Take the United Kingdom for example. The UK is the oldest E-2 treaty country in the world. In fact, the Treaty dates back over two hundred (200) years. Anyone who becomes an UK citizen is then eligible to apply for the United States E-2 Treaty Visa.

The UK offers an investor visa program which is almost ten times as expensive as citizenship through real-estate investment in Grenada, and eight times as much as a similar type of investment in Turkey.

The United Kingdom also has a much longer pathway to citizenship. A person can claim indefinite leave to remain in the UK after five years and citizenship after six. (Although the time it takes to become a citizen can be reduced if you invest more.)

Despite this, some of our clients prefer the UK route because it makes sense based upon their personal interests and circumstances.

The UK investor visa example is useful for drawing a direct comparison with the Grenada and Turkey programs. But there are other ways to become a UK citizen.

For example, there are British visa categories that encourage start-ups or other types of businesses than can provide a route to citizenship. Starting a business in the UK can be a good springboard for an E-2 business in the United States (or you might wish to consider a new-office L-1 visa instead).

Or there are family-based immigration options. This is one of the more popular routes for our clients. Especially our Indian clients. And this is not limited to the United Kingdom. We have seen clients become citizens of Canada and Australia and then apply for an E-2 visa.

The best thing to do is to check out the list of E-2 treaty countries. If your country is on there, our team can discuss the E-2 process with you directly. If your country is not listed – have a look through the countries that are on there. Determine if you have any connections or interests in any of these countries, and then discuss with our team about whether these are viable options.

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa allows a person to move to the United States with their family for the purpose of owning and operating a qualifying business. It has relatively low investment requirements, does not create a tax liability on earnings outside the US, and it can be renewed indefinitely. A spouse can apply for work authorization outside of the E-2 business, franchise businesses are eligible, and if you don’t have a business plan in mind, we can help.

Contact us to discuss your personal interests and circumstances.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.